Saturday, November 19, 2016

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Emily Saso

Emily Saso writes fiction and screenplays. She lives in Toronto and blogs at Her debut novel, The Weather Inside, is available now from Freehand Books.

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
My first book, The Weather Inside, gave me permission to call myself an author. It didn’t change my life, but it helped to solidify my identity, which is something I didn’t realize I needed until it happened.

The Weather Inside is my only completed novel to date, so I can only compare it to my short stories. The dark humour is consistent. Also the dashes of weirdness mixed in with the mundane. My novel feels different because I love it and am very proud of it. (I’m sort of meh about my shorts.)

2 - How did you come to fiction first, as opposed to, say, poetry or non-fiction?
As a teenager, I was obsessed with becoming a novelist or filmmaker, so I was always splitting myself in two, never getting very good at either discipline. When I was 18, I got rejected from every film school I applied to. That heartbreak forced me to focus my creative energy into fiction. I love non-fiction too, by the way. But fiction is much more fun.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
I’ll get hit with an idea pretty quick, which then spirals into an obsession. Once that idea takes over my life, I know I have something worthy of a novel. But the writing part takes me ages. I’m not overly talented—my first drafts are garbage—so I have to make up for that deficit with a disciplined, masochistic work ethic. (I’m lots of fun at parties.)

4 - Where does a work of fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
I don’t have a “usually” yet since I only have one book under my belt. But, as a reader, I definitely enjoy the novel form more than the short story, so—so far at least—I’m always striving for a book.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I’m a solitary writer. Now and then I’ll head to a coffee shop with a friend to lay down the foundations of an idea, but my true creative process relies on solitude, snacks and 90’s pop music—definitely not public readings. But I’ll do readings if I’m invited to do them, and I’ll enjoy the process. It’s probably still one of the surest ways to connect with readers.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I’m into the standard questions: Why doesn't he love me? Why can’t I find happiness? Where will I go when I die? Why am I even here to begin with? Why did I eat that whole box of cookies? I just try to put a twist on them, something weird that maybe (hopefully) no one else has thought of before.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
The role of the writer is to write for the love of it. If I wrote for any reason greater than that, I would be a depressive egomaniac.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
“Turn off The Real Housewives of Atlanta and write.”

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (short stories to novel)? What do you see as the appeal?
Short stories are short, is the appeal. But I’m a novel person through and through.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I work a fulltime job, so I squeeze in writing on the weekends. I used to write in the evenings after work too, but that was destroying my back, so I had to give up that precious timeslot.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
Read read read read books books books books.

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Live abroad.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
Something in foreign policy or espionage.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
I loved the endless possibility; that the only rules were the ones I imposed on myself.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I recently reread. 

The One I Love written by Justin Lader, which I will probably re-watch tonight.

20 - What are you currently working on?
My second novel and a television pilot.

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